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Top detectives and digitisation: Inside journalist’s plan to clean up Ardhi House

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The State, through the Ministry of Lands, is determined to ensure that cases of land fraud and related criminal activities are a thing of the past.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has announced far-reaching reforms in the Land Fraud Investigations Unit, ahead of the rollout of the new lands digital migration programme.

Twenty-six detectives were on Wednesday deployed in the unit, in a move meant to inject new blood and professionalize the unit.

DCI says the 26 detectives have a professional background in land survey, land economics, land physical planning and administration among other relevant fields.

With the recent boost in its capacity, the unit is expected to undertake investigations of land cases that are complex in nature head-on.

DCI boss George Kinoti says that the sleuths were “carefully selected and vetted”, and they posses the requisite skills relevant to investigations of frauds related to land.

“They will enhance the unit’s capacity to investigate land cases expeditiously & advise on the appropriate legal action to be taken. These reforms have been made ahead of the roll out of the new lands digital migration program, in conformity with the lands Registration Act, 2012,” Kinoti says.

The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning has already embarked on a process of conversion of land parcels within the Nairobi region, in conformity with the Act.

A gazette notice issued on December 31, 2020, invited all persons aggrieved by the Ministry’s plans to lodge complaints to the land registrar.

Process of lodging a complaint

The Ministry has since established a complaints help desk at Ardhi House to handle queries on title deed conversion.

The first step, a person shall lodge a complaint with the registrar through the Ministry’s offices at Ardhi House, 1st Ngong Avenue, Nairobi at no cost.

The second step, complainant to file complete forms LRA 96 set out in the Second Schedule to the Land Registration Order, 2017 or LRA 67. These forms can be accessed from the complaints help desk or downloaded from the ministry’s website www.lands.go.ke.

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Step three, certified copies of the land title, identification pin and P.I.N., and contact address should be attached to the form.

Step four, the complaint shall be recorded by the registrar who receives the complaint and assigned a case reference number to facilitate follow up.

After the processes above, complainants shall be regularly advised on the process of their complaints and shall be resolved within 90 days.

Race against time

Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney on Thursday briefed heads of department in the ministry and the multi-agency team on the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS), on the progress of the system roll-out.

Earlier on, many Kenyans had expressed concerns that the migration of title deeds might affect land ownership.

But CS Karoney assured that “The migration will not affect the ownership of the parcels, their sizes, and other interests registered against respective title deeds.”

“The system is set to revolutionise how land transactions are conducted by curbing fraud, improving efficiency, and upholding the sanctity of title deeds,” said Karoney, who was a seasoned journalist before being appointed as CS by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Ministry shall issue a notice calling for landowners to bring their titles for replacement. Titles conversion, the Ministry says, will be instant and free of charge.

Since this title conversion process does not change ownership of the land, joint title deeds will still have names of the joint proprietors upon conversion.

Target for digitisation

On January 4 2021, The Ministry said that it is targeting to complete the migration of land records to the digital land management system in the next two years.

The Ministry rues the punitive compensation awards emanating from cases of corruption and manipulation of the current manual records as the bottleneck to the migration.

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